The Outpost Office: How International Law Firms Approach the China Market

28 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2015 Last revised: 18 Jun 2015

See all articles by Rachel E. Stern

Rachel E. Stern

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Jurisprudence & Social Policy; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Su Li

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: December 15, 2014

Abstract

How are international law firms faring in China? Drawing on 2013 data, this article presents the first comprehensive overview of the field, including information about the global mix of players and variation in market niche. Three variables — years present in China, global strategy, and the level of localization — help explain why some China practices grow bigger than others. Overall, however, there is a great deal of convergence on one business model: an outpost office with a median size of eleven lawyers responsible for under five percent of worldwide revenue. The common experience of stagnation following initial excitement about market entry illustrates the strength of hype, the constraints of partnership, and the ongoing power of the Chinese state to shape the legal services market. At the same time, the rarity of exit reflects perceptions that a China presence is a valuable symbol of global commitment and a worthwhile bet on future growth.

Keywords: Lawyers, globalization, China

Suggested Citation

Stern, Rachel E. and Li, Su, The Outpost Office: How International Law Firms Approach the China Market (December 15, 2014). Law and Social Inquiry, Forthcoming, HLS Center on the Legal Profession Research Paper No. 2015-2, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2551109

Rachel E. Stern (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Jurisprudence & Social Policy ( email )

School of Law
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-2150
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Su Li

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
8476449763 (Phone)

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
700
Abstract Views
2,856
rank
41,835
PlumX Metrics